I have consistently supported repealing and replacing Obamacare to end, in my opinion, a massive government takeover of the health care industry. While Obamacare has helped some people get insurance, I consistently hear from constituents that due to increases in co-pays, deductibles, and the base cost of their insurance, they believe they were better off financially – and had better insurance – before the onset of Obamacare.
I support fairness for all Americans when it comes to their personal health care. I oppose the federal government meddling with the doctor-patient relationship by mandating what medical services will and will not be covered for senior citizens through Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
I believe in health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and in protecting and promoting access to health care for rural Americans.
I believe in empowering patients to receive quality, affordable health care that meets that patient’s individual health care needs and removing federal barriers that exist to this care, especially for those with terminal illnesses who are willing to take risks with new and experimental treatments.
Community pharmacists have been increasingly charged retroactive fees (DIR fees) after prescriptions are filled, which hurts, and sometimes destroys, their business. A majority of these pharmacists said they receive no information about when DIR fees will be collected or their size, while many also noted that DIR fees can total thousands of dollars each month. In response to this, in September of 2016 I introduced the Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act (H.R. 5951), which would ensure our community pharmacists receive reimbursement at the rate posted at the time the prescription is filled. This bill would make it so pharmacists know exactly what they're getting paid when you get your prescriptions filled.
Supported a package of bills that address the nation’s ongoing efforts to combat our nation’s opioid and drug abuse crisis, including the Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act (H.R. 3680). This legislation included an amendment I offered, which calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to develop best practices for prescribing naloxone, a medication designed to counter the effects of an opioid and prevent overdose. These bills passed the House on May 12, 2016. With an increase of 14.7%, Virginia was one of 14 states to see a statistically significant increase in the rate of drug overdose deaths from 2013 to 2014. This issue is especially critical in Southwest Virginia, which has been disproportionately affected.
I hosted an Opioid Roundtable with Congressman Roe (R-TN), which engaged law enforcement, health care providers, and political leaders in a discussion about the opioid epidemic and how to best collaborate to fight this growing crisis. One of the concepts discussed at the roundtable - permitting certain additional people (pharmacists, doctors, etc.) to take back expired, unused, or unwanted prescription opioid drugs - was included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524), which was signed into law in July 2016. This measure will help decrease opportunities for individuals to acquire drugs that are not theirs.
Introduced the COMBAT Act (H.R. 5127) in May of 2016, which will incentivize the development of effective and proven abuse deterrent products and spur innovation to increase access and technology options to prevent abuse. Too many Americans have been lost to opioid abuse. And sadly, many of those deaths are preventable. This legislation, along with other bills passed in the House this Congress will make a difference.
Introduced the FAST Act (H.R. 2799) in 2015, which will expand access to certain stroke telehealth services. Currently, Medicare only covers telestroke in the most rural, underserved areas. The FAST Act would change that, reimbursing for telestroke consultations under Medicare regardless of where the patient happens to be living. Through telestroke, a patient having a stroke can gain access to specialists through the use of interactive video-conferencing, even if the hospital at which the patient is receiving treatment does not have a stroke neurologist available around the clock. It can expand the diagnoses of ischemic strokes, thus allowing patients to more quickly be treated with Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA), a “magic, clot-busting drug” that helps dissolve blood clots and reverse disability if administered promptly. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and receiving treatment promptly are crucial when attempting to minimize the harmful impact of a stroke. tPA and telestroke ought to be more readily available to help improve patients’ chances of recovering from a stroke. The FAST Act will help.
Introduced H.R. 130 in 2015 to ensure that our coal miners can keep their expanded Black Lung benefits should Obamacare be repealed. While I fully support repealing Obamacare, I believe it is wrong to take away the Black Lung benefit improvements included as part of the health care law.
Introduced the bipartisan Patient Choice Act of 2015 (H.R. 1376) with Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Mike McCaul (R-TX), which aims to speed up the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of drugs for patients. Among other reforms, the Patient Choice Act would create a fast track provisional approval process for innovative drugs and treatments while giving patients with terminal diseases the option to purchase these new therapies at their own expense.
Introduced the Compassionate Freedom of Choice Act of 2015 (H.R. 790), which would allow terminally ill patients to use drugs, treatments, and devices that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration if their physicians certify that such patients have no other treatment options and the patient gives written, informed consent that they are aware of any potentials risks of the treatment. For patients whose doctors have exhausted current medical options and the patient has been told that the end of life is nearing, I do not think the government should care what treatment the patient may choose, and these patients should have the freedom to decide if the risk of an experimental drug is worth it for themselves.
Introduced the bipartisan Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act of 2015 (H.R. 793) with Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) to allow any willing pharmacy located within medically underserved or health professional shortage areas, like our rural communities in Southwest Virginia, to participate in Medicare Part D preferred networks. While Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy network plans were designed to make prescription drugs more affordable for beneficiaries, these plans have created confusion for seniors and put community pharmacies at a competitive disadvantage. Some seniors, especially in rural areas, have reported having to travel upwards of 20 miles in order to get their medications from a preferred pharmacy network because their local community pharmacy was not given the opportunity to participate in such a network. For me, this is an issue of fairness for all those who make their home in rural America.
Introduced H.R.2373, the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act (LUMMA) in 2015. This bill would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug and would also prohibit the federal government from preventing the prescription, possession, transportation, and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes in compliance with applicable state law such as the Virginia medicinal marijuana law that has been on the books since 1979. LUMMA does not involve the recreational use of marijuana – which I oppose – but instead would put marijuana in the same category as drugs like codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, and others which are currently accepted for medical use, which would allow for further research into the risks and benefits of marijuana as a treatment for cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, and other illnesses.
Hosted a 21st Century Cures Health Care Roundtable, attended by Congressman Roe (R-TN), which brought a host of medical experts to the table to discuss how to accelerate the pace of new, promising cures and treatments for patients.
Co-sponsored and voted to support the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6), which will help to modernize our health care system, improve FDA processes, and accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery cycle of new cures and treatments for diseases. This legislation passed the House on July 10, 2015.
Co-sponsored the Rural Hospitals Act of 2015 (H.R. 663) to extend the Medicare Dependent Hospital and Low Volume payments, which provide vital funding to keep rural hospitals in Southwest Virginia operational and treating patients.
Co-sponsored the Repeal of the Obamacare Bay State Boondoogle Act (H.R. 1479) in 2015, to end the Bay State Boondoggle. A Medicare provision was added to Obamacare that allowed for Medicare wage index changes to be paid for out of a national pool of money instead of out of each State’s allocation. This means that money is currently being taken away from rural hospitals across Southwest Virginia to pay for hospitals in Massachusetts.
Original co-sponsor of the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act of 2015 (H.R. 865) to shield health care professionals from liability claims when they are volunteering in response to a disaster.
Original co-sponsor of and voted to support the Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act of 2015 (H.R. 1190), which would permanently repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB is a 15-member board of non-elected officials charged with recommending Medicare spending reductions. This would result in bureaucrats, not doctors, making health decisions for seniors.
Voted to support the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646), which is the first step in an attempt to reform our broken mental health system. No individual should be turned away when seeking treatment for mental illness. This legislation, among other things, will help bring additional resources to the states so they are able to coordinate their community-based response efforts and best serve those suffering in their communities.
Supported the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act (H.R.1624), which amended Obamacare to allow states to continue to treat business with 51-100 employees as small businesses. This policy change protects small to mid-sized employers from significant premium increases that would’ve been imposed under Obamacare’s expansion of the small group market to include groups with up to 100 employees. This legislation was signed into law on October 7, 2015.
Voted to support the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2), which repealed the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and replaced it with a quality based reimbursement system for doctors in Medicare. The SGR formula was established to limit the increase in spending for doctors’ services that the Medicare fee schedule alone would not cover. The intent of the SGR system was to be a restraint on total spending for Medicare. However, having never been implemented, the system is not effective as evidenced by Congress’s innumerous short-term “fixes” to the SGR formula. H.R. 2 was signed into law on April 16, 2015.
Original co-sponsor of and voted to support the Protect Medical Innovation Act (H.R.160), which repeals the medical device tax. The medical device tax, included in Obamacare, would raise the cost of medical devices, which includes prosthetics, knee replacements, and x-rays, for consumers as well as job creators. This legislation passed the House on June 18, 2015.
Member of Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse and Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamines.
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